Why Have Competitive Schools Become Even More Competitive?

I was researching acceptance rates for the Ivies, the Public Ivies, the Little Ivies and the Ivy Pluses and found the numbers at many dropped again this year, a fact that schools love to humbly, or not so humbly, tout. Low acceptance rates signal prestige and prestige leads to more applicants — and more admissions dollars in the pockets of colleges. This is just one reason that schools already considered difficult to gain acceptance to are even more competitive now.

Here are a few other reasons:

Affirmative Action

The fact that colleges no longer have to consider race when creating a class may make it easier for white privileged students to gain acceptance from a competitive school; however, it will most assuredly make it harder for students with less financial resources to receive that same offer. Socioeconomic diversity will need to be addressed by each college admissions’ team individually versus via the federal Affirmative Action mandate. Some institutions have already begun to counter this notion by ending legacy admissions though there’s questions as to whether this will be enough of a statement to counter the “Rich Kid Affirmative Action.”


According to Oxfam, the richest 1% acquired nearly 2/3rds of all new wealth since 2020. This statistic along with the fact that Generation Xers, the parents of most current high school students and college applicants, are poised to earn or inherit considerable wealth. This means that there’s quite a bit of capital that could be flowing into higher ed institutions. In light of the end of Affirmative Action and the diminishing consideration of legacy admissions, colleges have the pick of the full-freight paying applicant pool when it comes to filling a class.


Generation Z comprises 23% of the US population and many are applying to college post-Covid. This “dueling banjo” effect of the sheer volume of applicants to competitive higher ed institutions coupled with the post-pandemic trend of test-score optional college admissions policies have made application numbers soar and Acceptance Rates (ARs) decline. The number of seats at some of these selective colleges have increased slightly but not enough to accommodate the volume of students.

With the constantly changing – and increasingly competitive — landscape of college admissions, identifying the “best fit” and crafting an application that aligns with a student’s college list of Reaches/Targets/Likelies seems more crucial than ever.

For more information about College Counseling/Essay Coaching, please drop me a line at Elizabeth@eecollegecoach.com or give me a holler at 917-863-2424. Also, for “news you can use,” please check out my blog, videos, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.